Anuj Malhotra Of IBM Reveals How Indian Banks Can Accelerate Digitisation

Anuj Malhotra dives deep to explain how Indian banks can accelerate their digital adoption by moving towards new cloud-based business architectures.
Anuj Malhotra, IBM

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An IBM Institute of Business Value study suggests that 74 per cent of its Indian respondents believed that the success of digital initiatives depends on the ability to run governance and compliance tools across multiple clouds. 

For the last couple of months, the hybrid cloud has emerged as the platform of choice for most organisations, driven by reasons including security, costs and portability. With governance, security and compliance being the key pillars for any reliable banking institution, standardising implementation across cloud platforms is important to drive uniformity. 

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In a recent interaction with Analytics India Magazine, Anuj Malhotra, VP and Senior Partner, Growth Platforms at IBM India Client Innovation Centre, said: “Typically, a bank has a combination of workloads and around 800 applications running on-prem or off-prem. Many institutions have their core banking solutions still on-prem and certain other solutions like customer relationship management and channel front-ends on the public cloud. Given IBM’s deep industry expertise, we help develop and deliver an integrated hybrid cloud environment with secured robust network and governance processes across on-prem, public and private clouds to ensure that customer and bank data are secure.”

Earlier, IBM has worked closely with the State Bank of India (SBI) on an end-to-end digital transformation — from infrastructure to data warehousing. Additionally, the company is expanding its current technology footprint by implementing a NextGen Data Warehouse and Data Lake solution, along with IBM Cloud Pak for Data. The solution is a fully-integrated data and AI platform to modernise the collection, organisation and analyses of data, which will transform the customer banking experience.

Starting his career as a Management Consultant almost 30-years ago, Anuj leads the Growth Platforms (Technologies) for its Global Delivery Center in India for IBM. Additionally, he also oversees global practices for its other Centers. His team delivers solutions across finance and supply chain transformation, digital customer transformation, data transformation and AI, hybrid cloud build and manager services. Anuj and his team also run Technology Garages that solve diverse business problems for clients across geographies. “This gives me a bird’s eye view of global client challenges across sectors, including banking, and how these are best addressed leveraging technology,” Anuj said. 

During the interaction, Anuj dives deep to explain how Indian banks can accelerate their digital adoption, moving towards new cloud-based business architectures. Additionally, he focused on how IBM has designed intelligent solutions for banking institutions. 

Edited excerpts from the conversation:  

AIM: Why do you think it is so challenging for traditional banks looking for a digital revamp? 

Anuj Malhotra: Banking and other financial services are in the midst of unprecedented rapid change. Digital technologies are driving major disruptions by redefining market definitions, operations and business models. Core banking activities that were profitable are now being commoditised at a rapid scale, and the competition is increasing – not just from digital fintech startups, but even from some of the most prominent and powerful businesses, both within and outside the banking industry.

Given the rapidly evolving landscape, most of the traditional banks made significant investments in the past to set up their infrastructure. The intent is to maximise on those investments while reducing additional spend. However, concerns like security and regulatory compliance, and rearchitecting complex business processes across on-prem, private and public clouds to deliver features across digital channels pose challenges in the digital adoption journey. 

Embarking or accelerating digitisation journey can be both complex and challenging for a traditional bank. It is increasingly becoming critical to address changing customer preferences, derive cost efficiencies and, more importantly, stay relevant and maintain market share in a competitive landscape.

Adopting a flexible, interoperable, secure hybrid cloud architecture can help traditional banks work on data where it resides for maximum security—be it on-premises or in the cloud. This method removes infrastructure complexity with a cloud-native layer with containers and orchestration and helps banks to migrate and modernise with confidence. 

AIM: How is IBM helping banks accelerate their digital transformation journey? 

Anuj Malhotra: IBM has helped many global and Indian banks shift to digital and has accelerated their journey, especially with the pandemic pushing the entire world to adopt the technology. IBM has helped banks transform and automate their processes to drive channel adoption, deploying business process management software, APIs and front-end technologies. The intent is to shift towards self-service interventions wherever feasible. 

We are helping financial institutions transform legacy applications to the cloud, which would help them save costs, provide modularity and interoperability, and reduce time-to-market for increasing digital adoption. 

IBM conversational banking and custom-designed chatbots use AI and help increase customer satisfaction by providing faster query resolutions. 

Anuj Malhotra: Some of the key trends across the banking and insurance sector include:

  • ML and AI to drive customer proximity: Companies within the industry are leveraging ML and AI not only to automate tasks within the loan/lending processes but also to get deeper customer insights to help customer service representatives to detect opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
  • Enabling customers to invest globally: Banks are leveraging cloud, data and analytics, and digital solutions to offer their customers the ability to invest globally across markets. 
  • Automation to enhance customer care experience: AI-enabled virtual assistants will continue to play a key role in helping customer-care representatives have more personalised interactions with customers and provide speedier resolutions. 
  • Establishing trust and reducing fraud with blockchain: Blockchain technologies can be deployed to help track documents being exchanged and stored for loan procurement and bank guarantees. 

AIM: Tell us about the services provided by IBM to help the banking industry move towards cloud-based business architectures. 

Anuj Malhotra: IBM Consulting provides services and value at every level of the IBM technology stack to help us meet clients wherever they are in their journeys. It makes it easy for clients to consume different pieces of our cloud and AI portfolio. We help financial institutions by providing: 

  • Cloud advisory services help financial institutions create a customised journey to the cloud depending on their challenges and business roadmap. It includes selecting and architecting an interoperable, secure and compliant platform, determining and planning workload and application modernisation, and migration strategy.
  • Channels transformation, payments and core banking modernisation to help financial institutions modernise their mainframe to stay agile and offer differentiated digital solutions to their customers via channels.
  • Security, risk and compliance services to help banks address regulatory mandates, combat financial crimes and money laundering, mitigate risks by streamlining applications and data stores and define strategies for the same.

AIM: Provide us with an example of how IBM is helping banks design intelligent workflows and automation solutions. 

Anuj Malhotra: IBM has worked with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and introduced LiGo -– a virtual assistant powered by IBM Watson to converse with policyholders, addressing their queries and providing personalised account-specific information. They have availed a universal bot architecture with a well-defined workspace for orchestration of different types of bots for Facebook, Google Assistant and WhatsApp. They created an email automation solution that accurately classifies the user requirement and accordingly maps an appropriate response.

AIM: How does IBM leverage AI and ML for personalised service management? 

Anuj Malhotra: IBM has deployed ML algorithms to help banks determine early mortgage settlements to reduce the impact on their revenue and deployed a speech-to-text analytics engine for an investment bank to help drive regulatory compliance. In addition, we have implemented automated operations command centre solutions for clients to manage the automation estate in terms of batch jobs and bots to drive efficiencies using data analytics.

AIM: Going ahead, what are IBM’s plans to further help banking institutions in their digital journey? 

Anuj Malhotra: According to the IBM Institute of Business Value Study, 88 per cent of banking executives in India said that platform business models enable greater personalisation of products and services, and 73 per cent said that platforms enable greater innovation of products and services. 

Given the requirement where there is a need for a seamless hybrid cloud and AI architecture for banks to function smoothly, IBM has developed IBM Cloud for financial services using its fourth-generation confidential computing capabilities. Our Keep-Your-Own-Key encryption helps partners retain control of their data, allowing them to safely transact. 

The IBM Cloud for Financial Services ecosystem is supported by over 100 ecosystem partners, helping customers accelerate cloud adoption and digital transformation. The cloud framework reduces third and fourth-party risks. Additionally, the built-in controls help customers accelerate innovation and unlock new revenue opportunities while decreasing the cost of compliance. 

Acquisitions such as Promontory have helped us deepen our capabilities to combat fraud and financial crimes and mitigate risk across both technology and operations for banks.

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Debolina Biswas
After diving deep into the Indian startup ecosystem, Debolina is now a Technology Journalist. When not writing, she is found reading or playing with paint brushes and palette knives. She can be reached at debolina.biswas@analyticsindiamag.com

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